China-Japan Rivalry

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China-Japan Rivalry
--How the Power Relations influence the East Asian Integration

Master Degree Candidate: Yin Huiling

A Supervisor: Guo Huimin

B Supervisor: Ane Bislev

Aalborg University

Table of Contents

Abstracts 2

1.Introduction and Problem Formulation 4

2.Methodology 7

2.1 Motivation and Main Focus 7

2.2 Research Approaches 8

2.3 Structure 12

3.Theories 14

3.1Neo-Realism and Its Main Concepts 15

3.2 Neo-Classical Realism and Its Key Assumptions 18

3.3 Security Dilemma 19

3.4 The Balance of Power 21

4.Analysis 23

4.1A Quick Glance at the History of Sino-Japanese Relations 24

4.1.1.The Celestial Empire and the Tributary System 25

4.1.2.Meiji Restoration and the Rise of Japan 26

4.1.3.Sino-Japanese War and the Two World Wars 29

4.1.4.The End of Cold War and the Rise of China 34

4.2The Prosperity of Regionalization and the Buds of East Asian Integration 36

4.3Involvement and Interaction of China and Japan in East Asian Regionalization 37

4.4The Policies Implications of China and Japan 40

4.4.1Why China worries about a strong Japan? 41

4.4.2Why Japan fears a strong China? 42

4.4.3The China-US-Japan Triangle 44

5.Conclusion 46

Bibliography 47


Regionalization has become the trend of development of world economy. When other parts of the world are sharing the fruits of regional integration, the development of integration in East Asia is very slow. China and Japan are two main actors whose economies account for the majority of the whole East Asia. Both China and Japan are seeking to be the leader of East Asian development. The rise of China is already a matter of fact and has brought the systemic changes in the world system. In comparison, Japan’s power is declining. Besides, due to their special relations formed on the basis of long history, these two states seem to regard each other as potential adversary. Both of them feel insecure in the region and the relations between both states can be characterized as power relations. Although economic interdependence is deepening, politically they are two rivalries.

This paper argues that the intense relations of them have very negative effects on the integration process of East Asia due to the existence of security dilemma in the area. It aims to explain how such bilateral relations affect the East Asian Integration.

Keywords: East Asian Integration, China, Japan, Rivalry

  1. Introduction and Problem Formulation

Globalization has made the world an inseparable village, in which interdependence between villagers (countries) has been strengthened greatly. The world today as a whole has become a big system consists of different and separated blocs contributed to by regionalization and these units include regions which have close relations, such as EU---a unique economic and political partnership between 27 European countries that together cover much of the continent1 and NAFTA---an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral rules-based trade bloc in North America2. Regional integration has provided its members political and economic advantages over other countries that are not in the system, such as collective security and omission of tariff and so forth. However, look at the world map, it seems that only Asia is still a blank area which has not formed a regional organization in a real sense, although people in Asia has given it a shot in materializing the goal of integration. Generally speaking, East Asia integration initiated from the Asian financial crisis in 1997 which primarily in the form of ASEAN Plus Three3. The crisis gave Asian countries a heavy shock and also a lesson that “unity is strength”. People just realized they needed protect themselves from crisis as one because one single state can never resist the risk like 1997 crisis and one state’s crisis may have effects on other states.

In the past decades, East Asian integration has achieved great improvement starting from scratch, and the ASEAN is seen as a successful model in Asia4. Despite its success and synergy effect to East Asia, the integration process of East Asian still has no tremendous advancement, undergoing both challenges from non-Asian countries and difficulties within Asia itself. Among all these challenges and difficulties, the relationship between China and Japan is on the top of the list.

Nowadays, China is believed to be economically the second super power in the world following the United States and a potentially dominating power in East Asia. The past 30 years has witnessed China’s nearly sustained double-digit growth. In 2009, China’s per capita GDP was only about $3,600, compared with $46,000 in the United States5. We can say these numbers are strongly impressive because China has started from a very low base number due to years of wars, natural disasters as well as misleading political decisions. As the international trade grows faster and faster, region-wide production and distribution network has been set up by Japan in both Southeast Asia and China, so Japan has to maintain a closer relations with these countries and the fast growth in Asian countries, China in particular, has pressed Japan and made if feel insecure6.

China is expected to take more responsibility in dealing with Asian regional affairs. However, a rising China has made its neighbors uncomfortable, especially for its nearest neighbor Japan. The historically unhappy memory between these two countries hasn’t been removed by the notion of integration. For Japan, a more and more assertive and active China means a challenge to its regional position7. All in all, they are seemingly natural enemies.

As two Asian giants, rivalry exceeds much more than cooperation in their minds, so to make China act as the leading power in promoting regional integration is still full of challenges and lack of possibility. Japan cannot carry the burden by itself, either. The nature of the relations is both decisive and destructive because on the one hand, there are so many obstacles in front of them: disputes, misunderstandings, historical hatred…, which disabled the substantial development of integration towards fulfillment. On the other hand, interdependence between two states is increasing as the development of internationalization. Both economic entities account for the majority of East Asia. The most sensitive problem is who should be the leading power of the organization that both countries wouldn’t comprise with.8

Therefore, the topic of this paper is about Eastern Asian integration and the role Sino-Japanese relations have to play from the Realist perspective, so the problem formulation is like this:

 How does the Sino-Japanese security dilemma influence the process of East Asia Integration?

In order to answer this problem formulation, I will mainly analyze the factors influencing relations between China and Japan and try to find out the reasons contributing to the difficulties and obstacles in the integration process choose Sino-Japanese relations to analyze for two reasons:

First, because of the complexity of the issue, this paper will only focus on the major factors influencing or hindering the development of East Asian integration. China and Japan are two giant economies in East Asia. In 2012, the GDP of China and Japan were respectively $8.227 trillion and $5.961 trillion, with an annual growth rate of 7.7% and 2%, while the GDP of East Asia & Pacific (developing only) was $10.33 trillion 2012. The total number of China and Japan was even larger than that of East Asian and Pacific developing countries9. From these numbers we can see why China and Japan are called two giants in East Asia, and accordingly the influence of both countries must be very powerful, so naturally their relations is of great importance to Asian integration.

Second, both countries have a wide range of controversial issues, such as territorial disputes over Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands, the Japanese visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, whitewashed versions of history textbooks, and the Taiwan issue10. And the changing status of China and its proactive participation in world affairs, especially in promoting East Asian integration make Japan very anxious in losing its influence, thus Japan sees China as potential threat. These are the negative aspects of their relations that are long-lasting and destructive. Both sides hold quite strong stance in these issues11. If not dealt with carefully and properly, the outcome will be permanent rivalry between both countries.

Although the topic of the paper is Sino-Japanese relations and its influence on East Asian integration, the United States——Japan’s alliance, who has long-involved almost every issue in Asia, and also has the most leverage in international affairs, cannot be neglected, but will be analyzed indirectly.

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